Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,619 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 10th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

A delightful puzzle with many different devices and trickeries.
I simply love the way I was mislead by 6Down

ACROSS
1 NOLO CONTENDERE No loco (engine) + Ins of tender (supplier) in NE (north east of England or Newcastle area)
9 WASTEPIPE Cha of WAS + *(tio pepe minus o)
10 ROMEO Rome (capital of Italy) O (love)
11 AIOLI AI (top grade) + *(oil) a new word for me meaning a garlic-flavoured mayonnaise.
12 SOPHOCLES *(schools pe)
13 PREDATOR What a lovely cd which got me off-track to think of a dd
14 PETROL ha
17 FETISH Ins of ET (heartlessly eat) in fish
19 ROSSITTI *(to resist)
22 REPROBATE Cha of RE (about) Probate (establishing one’s will)
24 WRING Wiring (circuit) minus i
25 LITRE LIT (illuminated) RE (a little or small part of REading)
26 DESPERADO *(road speed)
27 BROAD IN THE BEAM A horse chestnut alluding to Chris Broad, former England cricketer

DOWN
1 NEW LAMPS FOR OLD Cheeky reference to Aladdin and his genie lamp story from Tales of the Arabian Nights
2 LISSOME Ins of SSOM (rev Kate Moss, model) in LIE (story)
3 CHEMICALS Ins of *(Michael) in CS (CS gas,an irritant gas that affects vision and respiration, synthesized in 1928 by Corson and Stoughton and used in riot control)
4 NAINSOOK Cha of Nain (see Gospel according to St Luke C7 V11 to 17 about the widow whose dead son was resurrected by Jesus Christ) SO OK (that’s all right) Another new word – a kind of muslin like jaconet.
5 EXEMPT Cha of EXE (river) M (Minehead) Pt (point)
6 DARIO This is my favourite clue which took me quite a few minutes of goggling for Dario Fo , Nobel Prize winner for Literature. “Return of ….” do I need to say more ?
7 RAMBLER dd This reminds me of a story of long-winded preachers. One Sunday, three parishioners with a poker date after Sunday lunch sat next to one another at a back pew. The first one kept on looking as his watch while the pastor droned on. The second took out his watch and started winding it. The third one started shaking his watch.
8 CONSULTING ROOM Consul (old Ford model) *(motoring)
15 ELSEWHERE *(wheels) + ERE (before)
16 SOMERSET Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1506–1552) was Lord Protector of England in the period between the death of Henry VIII in 1547 and his own indictment in 1549. As for the wordplay. I fear this might involve pronunciation of words and this non-native had better stay out of the kitchen :-)
18 TIPSTER Beautiful cd
20 TSIGANE *(gets in a) a Hungarian gypsy
21 GANDHI G (good) and (with) Hi (greeting)
23 OMEGA Rev cha of AGE (one’s year) MO (short time)

44 Responses to “Guardian 24,619 – Gordius”

  1. TwoPies says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I got the answers but I needed a lot of your explanations. I hope Derek enjoyed 1ac, he’s waited ages for a train reference and now two have come along at once!

  2. brisbanegirl says:

    Hello Uncle Yap and thanks for the post,

    I must say there were a few new words for me, 1ac, 4dn, 20dn … but with bit of help from my friend google, I got there, but had to work backwards for the reason.

    I had the day off work so I had time to muck around … had I been on the train or at work, I wouldn’t have had a hope.

    27ac made me LOL.

  3. Chunter says:

    27a: I imagine the setter was thinking of his son Stuart, whose Michelle against the Windies the other day did not save England from an ignominious defeat.

    Michelle? Work it out or Google!

  4. Eileen says:

    Good morning, Uncle Yap

    16dn: Seymour =’see more’.

  5. brisbanegirl says:

    Clever girl Eileen, my English history isn’t great, so your explanation, plus those of Uncle Yap’s are helping me see some of the readings I completely missed.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Brisbanegirl: I ‘did’ the Tudors for A Level history and these days I remember things from far back better than more recent ones! Considering all our quirks of language, etc, I think you do very well. [I don't think you'd joined us when we had all the fuss about 'hump the bluey'! - 12th November - you might be amused to look it up!]

  7. brisbanegirl says:

    I will Eileen, with all that is happening here I can do with a laugh.

    I’ve always been a voracious reader, so I have gleaned a lot of language vagaries from that … also Aus is very multi-culti, so I think that helps too.

  8. brisbanegirl says:

    Thanks Eileen, Just read the blog from Novemeer…LOL.

    You’re a cranky bunch when the solution is unfamiliar … so how about a bit of sympathy for the non-Brits …. we regularly face the same issues.

    Auster as a setter was well known to me, she was published, under the name of Southern Cross, in our local paper every Saturday. I vaguely recall the puzzle and don’t remember it as that difficult … of course I knew the saying in question…

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Brisbanegirl: that’s what I meant in Comment 6: you’re so much more tolerant than we are. I just loved Smutchin’s first comment!

  10. brisbanegirl says:

    Eileen, Once I read Smutchin’s comment I just knew it would be a good read … his comment was the first of my chuckles.

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    Cranky bunch are we? Oh well, better be cranky then…..

    I can’t help feeling this puzzle was aimed at pleasing the expert solver. I’ll take any bets that most solvers (i.e. the thousands who never get to this blog) will have been completely stumped by this one. I resorted to the cheat button a few times to be honest.

    I didn’t get 1ac at all, but I enjoyed the explanation. I suspect if you walk down the high street and ask people at random if they have heard of that phrase you will be met by uniform blank looks.

    NAIN from the Bible eh? Anyone noticed that we live in a multicultural society, a vast number of whom will have never had cause to read the Bible and might even find it objectionable to be required to do so? Never heard of NAINSOOK either.

    Dario Fo. Whilst you are walking down the high street as previously suggested ask about who people read. Who even cares about such things anyway that they would know that? A tiny handful of people who are overly fond of their own erudition?

    Whilst you are walking down the street etc, try enquiring about Tsigane too.

    This was undoubtedly a puzzle an expert would enjoy, and if you know what the setter knows, a perfectly fair puzzle, but what the hell is it doing in a daily newspaper with a target audience that includes many more solvers than there are experts?

    That cranky enough for you Brisbane girl? Grin.

  12. David says:

    Agree with all of those, Derek. Count me as cranky, too.

    And I don’t get Chunter’s ‘Michelle’, either! Not my day.

  13. brisbanegirl says:

    Outstanding “Bad Boy” !!!!!

  14. Chunter says:

    David: Not easy! If a bowler takes 5 wickets in an innings it’s often called a ‘five for’ (as in ‘five for 80′), which sounds a bit like ‘Pfeiffer’, which in turn leads to Michelle.

  15. David says:

    Bloody hell, Chunter!!! All is forgiven,Gordius!

  16. chunter says:

    19a: Should be ROSSETTI.

  17. brisbanegirl says:

    Chunter … and there I was thinking it made some reference to ducks … how many were there ??? ;-) ;-)

    Given the dreadful Summer Aus has had at cricket, the downfall of the England team in the WI’s gave us some reason to smile… I’m looking forward to The Ashes.

  18. chunter says:

    No, David, my comment about Michelle was a topical (and possibly amusing) aside. Nothing to do with the clue.

  19. chunter says:

    Brisbanegirl: Are you going to take another day off and go to the Gabba on Friday to watch Oz v NZ? If you beat NZ today it will be the decider.

  20. brisbanegirl says:

    Chunter: Not going to the cricket on Friday as I haven’t been given a free ticket … I went to the test before Christmas instead … and I’m thinking now, it’s more about when we win tonight rather than if … Losing to NZ and SA is just slightly more bearable that losing to England … I still remember those awful 1980′s …

  21. brisbanegirl says:

    Chunter: Also, there’s a good chance of rain and it will be as hot as all get out …. hot and humid at the Gabba is not pleasant …

  22. cholecyst says:

    7 dn: Gardeners of a certain age will be reminded of the rose “Rambling Rector”.

  23. brisbanegirl says:

    Cholecyst …. that’s funny … thank goodness there are comedians in all walks of life!!!

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was last to post yesterday due to hospital visit (see yesterday.s blog if interested). But there was an important paragraph which y’all probably missed, so here it is….

    Last week a query about the weekly online Quiptic produced the response “did I want to blog it”? There also was a warning too that weekly blogs don’t really take off. I don’t mind doing it if it’s wanted. I suspect, despite the rarified solving level on this blog, I’m not the only one here who does that puzzle. My e-mail is an ntlworld of the com variety and my first name is replaced by “d dot”. Send me some mails and if I get a few I’ll think more seriously about doing it.

  25. brisbanegirl says:

    Go for it BB … I reckon of you do posts, life will be more amusing … as I said earlier, I had today off, so I had some spare time, so did the quiptic …

    If you do the post I’ll come and visit…

    PS … I think I sound like a syncophant … anyway, love your work.

  26. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Uncle Yap. This was pretty tough, I thought, but with lots of nice clues.

    Derek Lazenby: if you want a crossword which only contains clues that could be done by a good percentage of people you pick at random in the street then there are plenty of options.

    There are a few here I couldn’t get due to lack of general knowledge, but I’m quite happy about that – I’ll do better if they come up again.

  27. Dawn says:

    I’d rate this puzzle as pretty tough. I managed to get all the bottom half done and the long ones down both sides but most of the top eluded me. I thought it was probably another foreign/Latin phrase across the top but I just couldn’t make one up!

  28. smutchin says:

    Derek – You’re absolutely right that the crossword needs to cater for a wide cross-section of the paper’s readership, but remember: that readership covers solvers with a vast range of experience, from complete novices to seasoned experts. Do we hear the experts complaining that yesterday’s Rufus was too easy?

    I’m by no means an expert and I struggled with this one, but I also enjoyed it. For me, finishing the crossword is not the be-all and end-all, so I don’t mind the fact that half of today’s grid was still blank by the time my train journey finished because I can still get enjoyment from it by reading the solutions and appreciating the explanations in Yap’s excellent blog post.

    Brisbanegirl – I couldn’t remember what I’d said about that Auster clue so I had to look back to remind myself. Glad you enjoyed it!

  29. Paul B says:

    Well, it wasn’t all *that* bad for a Gordius. Only three candidates, NOLO CONTENDRE (a right pearler nonetheless), NAINSOOK and possibly TSIGANE dragged from the bowels of Chambers, plus the usual smattering of bizarre contruction.

    Okay, so there was the execrable (and probably insoluble) 6dn. And some extraneity (14ac, 21dn). Yes, yes, all right, I accept it, wrong parts of speech (5dn) too. And the completely and utterly insoluble (16dn).

    But still – pretty good.

  30. smutchin says:

    And to echo Mhl’s comment, I usually find the FT a little easier than the Guardian and it’s available for free online (not to do online, though – you need to print it off).

  31. Nathan says:

    I don’t mind obscure solutions, or a little obscurity in the wordplay, but I grumble slightly when I encounter both in the same clue – I’ve never heard of Nain and I’ve never heard of Nainsook, so there was little hope for me on that one. As for Seymour / Somerset … you had to know the answer first and then work out how the clue worked, I think.

    I do appreciate being able to find the answers here – keep up the good work, everyone.

  32. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I didn’t try this puzzle but would like to comment about the difficulty. TSIGANE = gypsy is something I’ve come across, and the acrosses seem straightforward enough to make it gettable from the anag. NAINSOOK would have been a new word, and I’ve forgotten about the widow of Nain, so I’d agree that clue was a step too far.

    I believe I’ve seen Hugh Stephenson say that his intention is to have 2 each of easy, medium and hard each week. That seems a fair compromise among the various levels of expertise.

  33. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Dragged from the bowels of Chambers: nolo contendere and nainsook are in the (10th ed) Concise Oxford. Tsigane isn’t, though tzigane is.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    mhl – There is a place for hard puzzles. Well three places actually.

    The first is in a specialist publication. I would have thought anyone who took these things seriously enough would be prepared to part with a few sheckels to get hard puzzles that way. It as after all the way it works with other hobbies. It’s nice to see a general newspaper covering the story of that brand new main-line steam engine Tornado, but if I want the proper story I buy something like Steam Railway. Nor would I expect reporting such as done in that magazine to appear in a national daily.

    The second place is the Prize crossword. It is entirely to be expected that this should be a hard puzzle, otherwise what is the point of offering a prize? Further, the “average solver” knows to expect this, he gets taken by surprise when non-prize crosswords suddenly turn out to be prize level.

    The third place is in the weekend or Sunday puzzle pages such as can be found in some newspapers and/or their colour supplements.

    There should be a fourth place, but sadly we all know it will never happen. Just as most major newspapers publish both plain and cryptic crosswords, there should also be a daily hard crossword. That way everyone would be catered for. More than that, we would all know where we stood. You would go for the hard one as your main entertainment, I would go for the easier one. We both would know the level to expect. You could have a go at the easy one for light entertainment, I could have a bash at the hard one to see if I’m getting better. But, sadly this is never going to happen. In the meantime, we live in a society which normally panders to majorities…….

    (See I have thought about this, I do see your side too, honest guv!)

  35. smutchin says:

    Dear Mr Rusbridger, I demand that the Guardian launch forthwith a new daily section comprising word puzzles of varying levels of difficulty, ranging from simple acrostics to Times-style jumbo cryptics set exclusively by Gordius, Rover, Paul, Araucaria and Enigmatist. I’m sure you wouldn’t object to losing a few news pages to accommodate this – maybe the business news, which is all too depressing these days anyway, and the international news, which of absolutely no interest to me. Maybe you could also drop the fashion section, which I’m sure no one ever reads, and axe that witch Toynbee while you’re at it. Yours etc, Angry of Yorkshire

  36. Eileen says:

    Witty as ever, Smutchin!! [But what about Rufus??]I’d written the following before seeing yours, so I’ll post it anyway!

    I think Nathan [Comment 31] has a valid point, in not expecting [but still only grumbling 'slightly'!] to find obscure words and obscure wordplay in the same clue. Apart from 4dn, I don’t think we have that in this puzzle.

    1ac is not just a Latin phrase but a legal term, and thus might be known by a wider audience than those of us who were lucky enough to learn Latin at [state] school. In fact, although I could work it out from the second part of the clue, I hadn’t come across it as a phrase and so looked it up – and learned something. The first part of the clue was absolutely straightforward and surely right up Derek’s street?: no engine = no loco; NE ‘Newcastle’ [not to everyone's taste, I know, but common enough to be readily recognised] around ‘tender’, the wagon behind the engine, or ‘coal supplier’ – perfect! If you got to the answer this way, then again you can look up the whole phrase and learn something.

    On the other hand, we have commenters like Tom Hutton, who don’t like to have to work back to answers, so they should have been reasonably happy today, I think – being able to learn some new words or phrases perhaps [AIOLI? TSIGANE?] by perfectly ‘legitimate’ means.

    Personally, I don’t mind which way I get the answer and, if it’s a new word, so much the better, if it’s a fair clue. Some people get there by having a prodigious vocabulary, others by painstaking parsing, others by a rare flash of intuition – many, I believe, by a combination of all those.

    It seems we’re never going to reach agreement – even about what, in fact, does constitute a hard / easy puzzle but, bearing in mind Pete Biddlecombe’s comment re Hugh Stephenson’s intention, can’t we just agree to differ, rather than have the same argument two or three times every week?

  37. Owenjonesuk says:

    20 down I put GITANES at first. It’s a brand of cigarettes and it means “gypsy women” in French. If I didn’t naturally have such a sunny disposition that would have made me cranky.

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    Did I say I minded? I was asked to be cranky, it happened that that was not difficult today. So I took a view that I thought might represent those not here present. You guys still don’t read it do you? What I think and what I argue about are not necessarily the same, I enjoy chewing the cud.

    For the record, I wasn’t too keen on today’s offering but I didn’t mind it too much. I was just doing as asked, cos it was fun to do so.

    Who mentioned being angry? I don’t know, you lot may know lottsa useless facts but you don’t know people too well.

    Certain people responded once again in a way which suggests they have no understanding of life outside the experts ivory tower. I merely try to be logical and present a broader view and get a facetious answer in reply. Doesn’t say much about that person. Doesn’t say much about any counter argument they may have as they obviously thought it too flakey to present. (I could still be just ess aitch one tea stirring still, but why spoil the fun by saying either way?)

    I didn’t get 1ac cos the majority of the words made me think of coal deliveries which in my young day was by horse and cart, which of course has no engine. Social commentary number 5,429, clearly others come from a background which was posher than that.

  39. Will says:

    Do not ask for whom Del trolls, he trolls for thee.

  40. Andrew says:

    Tsigane/tzigane/gitane (Spanish: Gitano; German: Zigeuner) is an interesting word: it seems to come from Hungarian (hence perhaps the varied spellings). As with the English word “Gypsy” they derive from the idea that Gypsies originated in Egypt.

    I know some of the words from several pieces of music in “Gypsy” (aka “Turkish” or generically “exotic”) style. “Tzigane” is the name of a well-known piece for violin (with various accompaniments) by Ravel, and there’s a Noel Coward song called “Zigeuner”.

  41. Paul B says:

    Pete: the fact that certain of today’s Guardian words appear in the bowels of estimable works other than Chambers hopefully doesn’t affect my point, if I’ve managed to make one.

    Will: you’ve got it in one. The upsurge in extraneity and spoiling techniques (also available at other unfortunate online locations) has been noted, according to my enquiries.

  42. Chunter says:

    Andrew: sorry to bring in cricket yet again, but there’s a amateur touring side called (from the Italian) I Zingari.

  43. Dave Ellison says:

    Derek #34, et al, en passant:

    I, an average solver, don’t expect the prize puzzle to be hard. It frequently isn’t.

    23d I got as far as theta, and couldn’t remember the later letters of the Greek alphabet (it’s been a few years), but the T didn’t help. Omega should have sprung out.

    I was fiddling with corsets (it’s been a few years) to no satisfactory outcome, for 16d.

  44. Barnaby Page says:

    I didn’t get terribly far with this one but NAINSOOK was the only solution I’d never heard of. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the occasional clue to push one toward a list of hypothetical solutions which fit either the pattern or the wordplay (or both), and then require their meaning to be looked up.

    Of course, one wouldn’t want every clue to work that way.

    Chunter – there’s also a Leoncavallo opera called I Zingari.

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